What Workers Can Do

While many workplaces strive to provide safe work environments, the dynamic and unpredictable nature of healthcare settings can create situations where workers may be concerned for their health or safety.  There are steps that workers can take to address these situations with their immediate supervisor and others in their organization (NIOSH, 2019).

  • Know your rights
    • The OSH Act of 1970 and OSHA Standards and Guidelines protect workers from job hazards. Employers must provide a safe and healthy workplace, training, and necessary personal protective equipment.
    • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing federal workplace discrimination laws and its website provides advice and guidance about protecting workers from discrimination and harassment at work: Laws & Guidance | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (eeoc.gov)
    • Many states have laws regarding refusing a patient assignment or other duties in healthcare settings.
  • Address unsafe situations at work
    • Follow the chain of command if there is a work safety issue and notify your immediate supervisor as soon as possible.
    • Before speaking to your supervisor, identify the exact problem. Be polite, respectful, and factual. Do not use accusatory terms.
  • Document your concerns
    • Document concerns in writing, which could be an email to yourself or a Word document to use later.
      • Factually describe any unsafe conditions as soon as possible and include locations, dates, and times.
      • Factually describe conversation(s) with your supervisor including any advice given and how the problem was addressed or resolved.
  • Report unsafe work conditions
    • Utilize anonymous safety concern reporting mechanisms available through hospitals and institutional occupational health clinics.
    • State or territorial professional boards or organizations, unions, or other worker advocacy organizations may provide remedy sources.
    • Contact applicable state or federal organizations for help, if necessary.
Page last reviewed: April 28, 2022